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Thus the object propofed by the committee muft, at the fame time, be fatisfactory to the fpirit of juftice, which animates the council and operates in reftoring confidence and public credit.
The confequence of the plan would be, with regard to the first article, immediately to bring into the public treasury the money of the debtors, for the fourth payment on the national domains. It would tend to render it easier for the debtors to make good their payments, and without injuring the public fund; and perhaps, far from envying them the advantage, it would be better to authorise them to pay in money or ingots, if they have no other means of payment.
If, on the contrary, you ftill refufe to admit payments in money, the confequence will be doubly ruinous, not only to the debtor, but to the public treasury.
At first they would be obliged to purchase mandats; and those who carried on a traffic in this kind of paper, would not let the purchaser of national domains have them without obliging him to pay at a dear rate.
In the fecond place, nearly the whole of the public service I would be carried on by means of fpecie; and in that cafe the government would be obliged to employ agents to exchange mandats for money, and to pay in mandats, an inconvenience which would be avoided, if, when it received payments in money, it annulled the mandats in the fame proportion.
It cannot be doubted but that in many departments mandats have had little currency, and indeed are not to be procured at the common rate of currency proclaimed daily. The minifter of finances has even attefted, that in the department of Morbihan many confignments have been made in money. Would the council render the bona fide purchasers victims of their confidence in its juftice, and pronounce a decree of forfeiture against them, when they wish to pay in money the real value demanded of them, and more especially too, when it is impoffible to procure mandats fo as to make their payments in any other manner. Already the council, penetrated with the truth of these motives, had adopted a refolution, which was rejected by the council of Ancients; but we have every reafon to think that the general clamour, and the force of public opinion, will not permit the rejection of the difpofition of the first article.
The fecond article authorifes the debtors on account of the fourth quarter to make good their payments, either by bills given them for what they may have provided for government, or in property to be restored to them, or by claims they may have as mortgagees; and the fifth article further enacts, that the purchafer who fhall become the first proprietor fhall discharge, in three months or later, and without paying any depofit, the whole
of the five laft fixth parts of the last quarter. From the admif fion of thefe difpofitions there refults,
1. That the purchafers, who may have fuch legitimate demands upon the Republic, would not only be debarred the right of alledging that they could not pay their purchase money, but their refufal fo to do would be taken advantage of to make them forfeit all the payments which might have been made on account of the three firft quarters.
2. The public treafury would certainly obtain payment of the first fixth part of the last quarter in money or in mandats, according to the rate of exchange, within a fhort period, as well from the payment of debts propofed to be received in money or in mandats, in cafe of neceflity, whilft by refufing fuch an advantage to purchafers, the confequence would be forfeitures, difcontent, and complaint,
3. It would give to all the purchafers a fresh degree of confidence in their purchases, and they would no longer have to fear thofe reproaches of dilapidation which envy or malice fo often alledges against them, fince they might answer that their purchafes were paid for by their legitimate demands on government. The council has never fuffered an occafion to efcape of proving how jealous it is in refpecting the purchafe of national domains, and furely it will not forego the opportunity now offered of removing the caufe of the complaints made by those who have purchafed fubfequent to the law of the 28th Ventofe.
In short, although the committee has confidered fome of the inconveniencies which may enfue in confequence of the refolution it has reported to you, it has not obferved others which have been difcovered by the Directory.
1. The creditors in favour of whom the propofed exception is to be eftablished, cannot depend upon their purchafes after they have made them; they confequently cannot claim them.
This first confideration does not appear to the committee to enter into competition with the advantage to be derived from the plan of the refolution. It is true, that if the law of the 28th Ventofe had not been followed with any modification, those who have made their purchases according to that law could have demanded no alteration in refpect to them; but they would, neverthelefs, poffefs the right of being themfelves paid, in order that they might be able to pay what they owed. For when a purchase is made with the condition of making good the payments by different inftallments, the perfon who is to pay them not only depends upon the property actually in his poffeffion, but likewife upon being repaid debts he has a right to expect.
Further, the modifications made with refpect to the law of the 28th Ventofe, have produced changes fufficiently important to make it neceffary to grant new privileges to purchafers.
2. The law of the 13th Thermidor, and the decree made by the Directory for its more exact obfervance, declaring that the payments fhould not be made otherwife than in mandats, are circumftances which ought not to authorize the fear that the prefent legiflature has not fufficient stability to make itself obeyed.
It is neceffary, beyond a doubt, if it is intended to impute any blame to the legislature, with refpect to the civil ftate, or the property of citizens, not to determine how far that blame thall extend, without great confideration and precaution; but we are far from treating of a queftion of such a nature. The principles of our prefent legiflature, with respect to certain tranfactions, are, that they fhould be fettled in money or mandats, according to the rate of exchange. Contributions ought to be the fame; circumftances never more imperiously required that money should be paid into the public treafury. How then can the effect of a measure be feared which had no other object?
The obligations under the more rigorous principles of civil right are confined either to action or indemnification. Every man called before a tribunal to pay an obligation which he has contracted in mandats, would be difcharged by paying in money the amount of what he had received in mandats. How then can government be more rigorous, and particularly towards purchafers to whom it owes protection and fupport, inasmuch as they have united their destiny and their fortunes to thofe of the Republic, and are the very perfons to whom the government is indebted for its eftablishment.
3. There remains national domains ftill to be fold; the fuccefs of their fale depends upon there being a great number of creditors, who may be induced to purchase them, and the resolution, so far from inducing them to become purchasers, must have a contrary effect.
There certainly remains a confiderable quantity of national domains, to be fold; but if the fuccefs of future fales depends upon there being a great number of creditors, it is neceffary that they fhould come forward with the affurance that the refolution prefented by the committee would tend to diminish their number.
But it is not enough to confider the intereft of creditors with refpect to future fales; it is not lefs juft nor lefs neceffary that we should occupy our minds with thofe already made, inafmuch as government cannot gain any thing by reducing purchafers to the neceflity of forfeiting what they have advanced; and, on the contrary, the example of fuch conduct would deftroy all confi dence in the public faith.
4. All contributions are declared payable in money or mandats, according to the rate of exchange. In order for the receipts to be any ways effective, it is neceffary to keep up the value of the circulating paper. It cannot be denied but that the propofed
measure would be injurious; it would be so much the more fatal, as the daily receipts would actually furnish the only means of their existence.
If the plan of the committee tends to preserve a greater num ber of purchafers, it fhould encrease in proportion the number of those who have to pay money or mandats into the public treafury. If purchasers paid in money, the receipts would be more effectual than ever, If they paid in, mandats, they would be obliged to procure them, and would be interested in keeping up their credit.
The fears of the Directory appear the more ill-founded, as they might be obviated by the currency of the mandat, according to the rate of exchange.
In a message of the 1ft Prairial, the Directory expreffes itself thus:
"If you would preferve the public property, it is necessary. that whatever is paid into the public treasury should be according to the rate of exchange; and in that case every one is interested in raising the courfe of exchange, by which means there will be no exchange at all; for if there has been a rate of exchange, and that has been fatal to the public wealth, it is owing to the treafury receiving in a different manner to what is paid. Thus every effort would be made to pay but little and receive a great deal, and confequently the public treasury would be injured.
"But eftablish a rate of exchange for all the contributions, for the fale of your national domains, and for your receipts and payments, and all thofe who would have to pay into the treasury would be interested in raising the value of the symbol used in payment, and in raifing the courfe of exchange, or rather, there would be no longer any variation in the rate of exchange; good faith would revive in all dealings, and we should no longer wit nefs the difgrace of having laws impoffible to be executed."
What the Directory obferved was perfectly applicable to the circumstances in which we were fituated, and it is easy to be obferved, that of all the reasons which have been employed in oppofition to the opinion of the committee, there is not one which can be put in competition with the powerful confiderations which have given birth to the plan I have prefented before you, and upon which it is of confequence for the council to pronounce opinion.
Refcript addreffed to the Duke of Wirtemberg, on the 10th of July, by the Imperial Court, on the Subject of Peace.
E received the letter you wrote us upon the 23d of last month. You there prefent your good advice with a re fpectful franknefs. You obferve that it only depends upon us to fecure the happiness and the fafety of Germany; that a speedy peace can only diffipate the violent storm which impends over the country; that this alone can remove the dangers which in fo many ways threatened the Germanic conftitution; in fine, that this alone can put a period to thofe unparalleled miferies under which humanity fo long has groaned. At the fame time you acquaint us, that if in thefe difficult circumstances the danger approaches ftill nearer your states, you will have no refource but to fubmit to the law of neceffity, and to make a separate peace with France.
The empire, in truth, defires with ardour, and has long entertained this with, the return of peace, but connected with the just feeling of its honour, its dignity, its independence. In this with it only comprehends a peace, equitable, juft, fuitable, and, worthy to be accepted, which refts upon the folid bafis of the perfect fupport of its integrity and its conftitution, agreeable to ancient treaties. At the fame time, by a proper refpect for thefe fundamental laws, it has never ceafed to render its wifhes and its refolutions upon this subject fubordinate to the rigorous condition, that peace so ardently defired should not be concluded, but agree ably to the constitution, in a most perfect and invariable concert between the Emperor and the states.
The refolutions of the diet of the 22d of December, 1794, and of July last year, become laws of the empire in virtue of our Im perial functions, very pointedly atteft this referve; and the fame Spirit ferves as a foundation to the full powers and authorities for peace, which have been fubmitted for our acceptance, in virtue of the refolution of the diet of the 7th of October, 1795, as well as for the annexed inftructions to the deputies of the empire at the congrefs for peace; inftructions which effentially proceed upon the re-establishment of peace, juft, honourable, ftable, permar nent, and common to the whole empire, and which have pointedly and exprefsly as their object the maintenance of the empire upon the footing on which it ftood before the mifunderftandings which arofe with France, under the special recommendation to ferve ancient treaties.
After having thus expreffed, in a manner equally conftitu tional and agreeable to the interefts of the Germanic empire, its fentiments with regard to the re-establishment of peace, the general diet, full of refpectful confidence in our paternal folicitude for the common advantage of Germany, entreated